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do you remember rock and roll radio? [updated]

With the exception of David Lee Roth in the morning (starting in January), KRock will be offically dead to me as soon as the new "Free FM" format takes over.

"Infinity's FREE FM stations will feature an eclectic mix of personalities, whose distinct creativity, perspective, sense of humor, intellect and unpredictability do not fall under the guiding principals of any particular narrowcast theme or ideology," said Joel Hollander, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Infinity. "An entertaining hybrid of provocative, political, pop culture, news, music and lifestyle formats, our next generation of FM stations will be personified by their conviction, passion, originality, fearlessness and innovation which is not heard anywhere else on the radio."

Shorter press release:

Talk, talk, talk, more talk, more blabber about nothing, prank phone calls and "odd" news, bitching about the world with in a post-modern ironic kind of way, fluffy Hollywood interviews, thirty second sound bites about the top grossing movies, some Paul Harvey-esque dude giving you a humorous take on a news subject and, fuck you don't lie to us there will be no music.

Rock radio is dead.

There are now two rock stations left in New York (Long Island based WBAB and NYC based Q104) and both feed you a steady diet of Freebird, Stairway to Heaven and select cuts from The Wall, interspersed with a Nickelback song here or there to keep them current.

New York has no real rock station. That's a god damn pity.

Yea, I know. There's satellite radio.

Well, not everyone can afford a satellite radio in their car (this is where people do most of their radio listening). And whether one could afford it or not is NOT the point. The point is, free rock and roll radio is dead. Thanks to ideas like Jack - the worst thing to happen to radio since the beginning of time - FM "rock" radio is nothing more than an iPod stuffed with classic rock standards, set to shuffle. There is no innovation, no free form radio, no station that plays deep album cuts, nothing daring out there. There is nowhere on he New York metro area radio dial to get new rock music. Am I the only one that sees the pity in that? That the place that brought you formerly great radio stations like WNEW and WPLJ is now devoid of a station that spins the next big thing, the new bands, that introduces you to new sounds is gone, gone, gone?

Where did I first hear the latest Zeppelin song? Who helped me discover Van Halen? Who told me that John Lennon died? Where was the first place I heard the Ramones? Rock radio, all of the above.

The girls don't seem to care tonight
As long as the mood is right
No static at all, no static at all
FM--no static at all

It's gone. It's happening everywhere, not just New York. Rock and roll radio is dead. I don't care that there are alternatives. It's still god damn sad that the best thing about FM radio is no more.

Do you remember Murray the K,
Alan Freed, and high energy?
It's the end, the end of the 70's
It's the end, the end of the century

Do you remember lying in bed
With your covers pulled up over your head?
Radio playin' so no one can see
We need change, we need it fast
Before rock's just part of the past
'Cause lately it all sounds the same to me
Oh oh oh oh, oh oh

Will you remember Jerry Lee,
John Lennon, T. Rex and OI Moulty?
It's the end, the end of the 70's
It's the end, the end of the century

I know, out with the old, in with the new. It's just my opinion that the old was better. Curmedgeonly of me, probably, but kids today will never know the beauty of good FM rock radio.

If anyone is in any of the areas that started playing Free FM today, I'd like to hear what you think.


And another thing: What about alternative radio? There is no outlet for new bands, local bands, bands that don't fit into the Zeppelin/Skynyrd/Def Leppard mold prevelant on radio now. Any millionaires out there who want to give me money to start a new radio station?


There are some good college stations out there playing hard rock, current rock and alternative, but that's usually for only three or four hours at a time. And if I could get WSOU in my house and car all the time without static, I wouldn't be so unhappy about the loss of other rock stations (especially the first incarnation of Q104, which was a metal up your ass kind of thing).

I've been with KRock for a long time, through quite a few programming changes. The latest one sounded good on paper, but hasn't held up well. I think if they want narrower instead of broader, they might have hung onto enough listeners to make it worthwile to keep the station rolling as is. Instead, they tried to be like the Jack of rock radio - encompassing everything from Disturbed to Tom Petty - and it didn't fly.

What I want to know is, where is the audience for more talk radio? Are there enough people out there to make Free FM profitable? Who wants to hear this crap? No one I know.

And another update:

There's a great article in today's Daily News on this subject. And, as TC mentions in the comments, I'll probably listen to Penn Jillette's show as well as DLR's, but that's about it.

Update again:

I appreciate everyone who has commented about/sent me alternatives to radio (streaming stations, college stations, etc) - I'm not really looking for an alternative to listen to, so much as I am lamenting the passing of New York rock and roll radio. I know there are other places/ways out there to hear music, I'm just upset about KRock pretty much dying right in front of me.

I'm going to miss Booker.

Ed has something to say as well. I knew he would.


Once Infinity gets a hold of a station, everything goes to shit. They've destroyed three of the biggest stations in the Baltimore area. The only thing they're good at is AM stations.

But when we were kids, we never got to experience the beauty of TRL. Or Radio Disney.


TV kills radio and newspapers, satellite radio kills FM radio, DVDs kill theaters, the Internet kills TV, blogs kill time. It's the circle of life.

This is why I'm so glad that my new cars cam standard-equiped with a CD/MP3 player. I don't know if you can get 95.9 WRAT out on LI, but the last time I was home in Jersey, they were the only station truly rocking. Although, I pine for the stations in NY, eventhough they've become iPod shuffles, it beats the lame excuse for radio in Austin, TX. It's pretty sad that in the "live music capital of the world", we have the lamest radio stations playing music. There's only one station even worth listening to 101X. Sad, just sad.

Ahhh... how I miss old NYC rock stations, and their great shows, like For Headphones Only, on WNEW, featuring Scott Muni (Mr. "Hookey-dookey, Mickey Mouse"), playing albaum sides of music you could only truly appreciate with headphones (not those pathetic era buds our kids use).

I am old enough to remember when WPLJ was 'NY's Best Rock', and they meant it.

On the upside, as I still hold an AOL subscription (HEY! I was a charter member! So I get a discount!), I can hear streaming XM Radio... that and my Yahoo MyStation, at least at the office I have some options.

Miami Steve (I'll never, ever call him "Little Steven") Van Zant railed about the state of NYC rock radio affairs in today's Daily News.

You're right about that station becoming dead to me when the change is put in place, although I'll probably give Penn Gillette a shot along with DLR. Other than those two, Feh.

90.7 - WFVU - No ads, no stupid jokes, no giggling - just great music - and yes, if you listen closely, because he still does not talk much, that is Dennis Elsas on weekday afternoons.

FUV is great for a lot of things - rock and roll is not really one of them.

I do enjoy Idiot's Delight with Vin Scelsa.

Michele, I don't know what capabilities your computer has, but I do know that my local alternative station (in Seattle) streams their live broadcast on their website--www.1077theend.com. 107.7 "The End" broke Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and a whole bunch of other alternative bands, plus they've gotten away from the cheesy corporate radio thing towards more of a grungy college station feel. You might want to check it out.

last time i was in L.A., even the great KROQ was sucky.

Where i live, we have a rock station. It plays a lot of different stuff, but most stuff i've been hearing for way too long. And in the morning, its some stupid morning drive time talk thing. I don't want to hear people yabbering in the morning on the radio. I WANNA ROCK~!

"What I want to know is, where is the audience for more talk radio? Are there enough people out there to make Free FM profitable?"

Michele, I have one good feeling about this Free FM shit: It will probably destroy Air Idiot in NYC. Just steal the shit out of their piddling audience. The hosts, when "political," will probably trend to the left, but they won't be moonbat-crazy about it. And they'll know coming out the gate they gotta entertain an audience, not preach to it.

Which will be the deathknell for Franken, Garofalo, and Co. Their ratings are already in the tank; Free FM may pull the stopper from the drain and away they go if the new format pulls away enough listeners.

I'm still not sure what the Jack FM format is.

It looks like the Orlando station is going to retain it's 'alternative' rock format even after Stern leaves.

That's not much because the real problem these days, is not the kind of music that is played, but the selection. It's all the same thing, every day.

The classic rock stations down here are not allowed to go one day without playing a Lynyrd Skynyrd song at least once.

The Clear Channel owned 'alternative rock' station plays new stuff. Of course, they play the same crap over and over again too. Infinity's station mixes it up a bit. They'll play AC/DC or U2 and also the Beastie Boys, but even that gets tired.

The problem is, that the directives come from the home offices of these radio stations. I know one of the DJ's at the local radio station who says that the title of 'Program Director' is a joke since that person directs nothing. They are given a rotation list and told that's what the DJ's are to play for that day.

It's all become cookie cutter. It's the reason why my iPod in the car with me and the radio only goes on during lunch to listen to some of Jim Rome's show.

Rats. Given the midwest's general lag in trend-following, this bodes poorly for our drives from here to my parents' (Minneapolis to Green Bay) in a couple of years. Right now I can listen to rock radio almost the whole way (using 4 stations), but I should have known it was too much to ask for that to last.

one word for you, dear:


It's the "new" radio.... there are a TON of good podcasts out there and you can set up iTunes to download them for you and listen to them on the way to work.

My iPod?

She's dead, Jim.

Deader than dead.

Stupid Apple.

Yeah, radio has been dead for years here. Podcasts have taken over for the radio for me.

Podcasts have nothing to do with iPods by the way.

Speaking of live stream radio, WXPN in Philadelphia at xpn.org (88.5 FM if you're in the area) doesn't do a bad job of alt rock. Since they're a college station/public radio, there's the added advantage of no commercials and intelligent DJ's that have a clue about the music.

I have to disagrere with you on the Jack Radio format. We just got it here in knoxville and I have to say I love it! No freaking DJ's! Ours does play deeper cuts of albums. Does it sound like an ipod set on random? Yes it does, however, In the past two weeks of it playing on air, I have YET to hear any song twice. And mind you, I am in my car...alot. Maybe your Jack sucks up there, but down here in Knoxvegas, ours rock!

/p.s. knoxville has quite a few rock stations and maybe that is why Jacks playlist includes the deeper cuts

Hon, what happened to your iPod?

First it got sick. Ate all my songs, uploaded them again, then it started skipping and stuttering on songs, not playing some, getting stuck on others. Then it ate all the songs again.

Then it died. Won't go back on at all.

Same thing happened to my daughter's mini. Both of ours were only six months old.

In the Apple-verse (aka: The Mothership) you should walk up to one of those manned-by-idiots "Genuis" bars and DEMAND SATISFACTION!

**Since {xpn.org} a college station/public radio, there's the added advantage of no commercials and intelligent DJ's that have a clue about the music. **

While I will agree with you that XPN's jocks are knowledgeable and their playlist is fantastic (I live just north of their broadcast range), to say they have no commercials is like saying PBS-TV has none, either; 20-30 second 'sponsor' spots are ads, no matter what you call them.

Gimme your iPod, Michele.

They just opened an Apple Store out here at the SI Mall (concperAlert: while I was OFF the continent), previously called me up and "requested" an interview (I'm like the hugest Guy Wakasabi clone on the Rock), and when the ersatz (is that right? not looking) store manager interviewed me, I told told him, "look, it's simple. Busted hardware gets replaced. You find they broke it, you fucking hammer them for lieing. But if you shipped a piece of shit, you buy it back. Right? You still working off that 33 margin? You work for the Scully Church?"

Where did I go wrong?

Ahh, screw this!

I'm going to the MAll!

They moved my office from the city to the burbs almost a year ago, necessitating an hour car ride each way instead of the train.

I got XM and haven't looked back. If nothing else, commerical radio has too many, well, commercials.

I don't like having to pay 13 bucks a month for radio, but I've found it to be a good deal, and it's made the drive an awful lot more tolerable.

WAAF in Worcester/Boston plays a lot of local music and keeps the local scene alive. They also let local bands play at Locobazooka, the annual festival they put on. That's about the only good thing I can say about Worcester.

Dayton, Ohio, however is another story. Ugh.

"Who told me that John Lennon died?"

Howard Cosell told most of the nation on a Monday Night Football broadcast.

Radio here in AZ is the same as NYC--if it's not 25 years old and a hit song at the time, it never gets played.

That's why I never listen to radio during commute times (and, well, almost never otherwise) - all the damned talking. If I wanted to hear a dumbass talk to hear his own voice, I wouldn't be listening to a music channel, would I?

To help solve your classic rock problems, perhaps XM or Sirius? At least you avoid almost all the DJ-blather/morning-show crap, and my limited experience is that there's more variety and innovation, at least.

It isn't just New York. When the legendary WHFS switched over to Spanish-language format earlier this year - without even a warning to the audience - it was a very sad day for radio. It SUCKS to have formerly-loved radio station, something that was such a big part of your life - ripped right out from under you.

HFS was, back in the day, a true progressive, free-form icon. It was independently owned and run out someone's condominium. But starting in the mid-80s, HFS got corporate, play-listy and boring, and by the time it died its unexpected death ths year it was not even a shadow of its former self. Indistinguishable from any other "rock" station in the country.

The really sad thing is that the new Spanish-language station is getting better ratings than HFS ever did. Spanish-langugae is, sadly, the future of radio.

I agree entirely that rock radio is dead, but I'm not all that hostile to Jack. Mostly, I see Jack as a symptom, not a cause. This stale diseased gripped rock radio long before Jack. And, Jack does show a genuine effort. At least they're trying to mimic variety, whereas before these stations took pride in playing the same exact songs every hour, hour after hour. Baby steps. I'd like to hope that Jack is heading somewhere more positive; because frankly, there's nothing else to hope for.

Not that it makes any difference to those in NY, but the best alt/rock radio station I've ever heard is WBRU in Providence: http://www.wbru.com/

It's the Brown University station, so it has that college edge. It has much, much more of a presence outside of the university than most college stations have, though. You don't know you're listening to students unless you pause to consider how young all the jocks sound.

Brains, we didn't by a long shot watch Monday Night Football.

We in NYC caught it right out of WNEW's mouth.
And then the station lost it for awhile.

WYSP in Philadelphia is a casualty of the FREE FM changeover. And it's a sad day in Philly.
In the 70s and early 80s, WYSP and WMMR were constantly at war for the ratings in the AOR segment in Philly. It was epic.
In the early 80s, WMMR had John DiBella and his Morning Zoo in the morning (it was innovative and hilarious back then. He was the infamous Zookeeper that Stern always referenced later in the ratings wars), and MMR ruled the ratings book for about 5 straight years.
Philly was the second (I think) city to be on Stern's syndication deal, and Stern took aim straight at WMMR and the Morning Zoo, and the ratings war was hard-fought and took about 2 or 3 years before Stern finally won the morning slot. I remember Howard fans paying cover charges to get into clubs in Philly where MMR was hosting an event, all just to write "HOWARD RULES" on a WMMR banner. WMMR had clothing for sale in the area department stores. Bumper stickers were everywhere.
When WMMR finally lost the morning battle, a lot of people thought that WYSP would win the overall war. But WMMR has persevered throughout the day, competing in the noon slot and the afternoons in an effort not to fade away. WMMR has gone after anything and everything to cling to the ratings, until the listeners taste started to swing back around to AOR. Luckily, WMMR has had Pierre Robert as a noon DJ for almost 25 years now, so there was always a link, through Pierre's voice and point of view, to the past glory days as the mornings and afternoons changed around him. Pierre is now a Philadelphia institution, much like Scott Muny was in NY.
WMMR was AOR, and WYSP was classic rock, and then hard rock. The competition lead to refinements on both stations playlists, as each tried to tweak the music to attract the ears after the morning shows were over. And WMMR stayed competitive throughout the day, mostly thanks to Pierre. There's nothing like having a solid rock in the slot right after the morning drive slot to attract listeners, and I was one of the many that switched off WYSP after the Howard Stern show was over, to listen to Pierre spin records on WMMR.
So my experience was Howard in the morning, and Pierre until 2 or 3. Then the program was up for grabs. When Opie and Anthony were on in the afternoon, I listened to raunchy hilarity on WYSP. When O&A got tossed, I went back to Raz and then Jaxon on WMMR for good music and good DJs.
A few years ago, Howard's tone changed to a lot of whining, so I started to listen to another morning show, Preston and Steve on Y100 (RIP, Feb 2005). When I found out that the Preston and Steve show was coming over to WMMR, I knew WMMR was on its way back up into contention with WYSP for the general ratings championship. Stern was still a 900-pound gorilla in the morning, but he was going to satellite.
Over the last quarter, Preston and Steve tripled the ratings of the previous morning show. WMMR was officially a contender, even though Stern's ratings were still astronomical. Maybe with a few more quarter books, P&S could get enough listeners to go toe-to-toe with the King of All Media, before he lopes off to satellite land. I was looking forward to it - finally some life on the Philly Rock Radio segment.
And now this.
RIP, WYSP!! We will miss you. You made WMMR better even as you kicked their butt. You changed the parameters of rock radio forever with the Stern show, you played Black Sabbath when they were ancient history during the Hair Band years, and you played Strawberry Alarm Clock when everyone else was playing Bruce Springsteen. You were never my favorite (DiBella and Pierre got me as a kid, and I still love Pierre), but you were always my second. I am sorry to see you go.

Opie & Anthony on XM Satellite Radio! OPIE & ANTHONY ON XM SATELLITE RADIOOOOOOO!!!

Meh, I just found that my tastes changed as I aged, and now I basically just listen to WBGO (as I have since I gave up on Howard about 5 years ago, too much whining).. Maybe I'll give Howard another chance, but if all he does is whine about the studio it's bye bye again.

And I admit, I listen to 101.1 more now than I did a year ago (maybe 2hrs a week vs. 2hrs every 6 months), that station's in my "it's a commercial, skip!" list. And you can get your recommended daily balance of cheese without annoying humans blabbing all over intros.